History of Cape Cod

By: Hannah Fillmore-Patrick

Cape Cod welcomes you to experience its vibrant communities, exciting activities, storied history, fantastic cuisine, and natural wonders. The towns of the Cape and Islands offer extraordinary opportunities to tourists walking on platform in cape cod_history of cape cod_cape cod history_cape cod tourismimmerse yourself in culture, discover local treasures, and meet fascinating people. The rural settings, conservation areas, beaches and waterways offer an incredible variety of leisure, sport, and adventure. Join us and explore Cape Cod history today!

Our exploration encompasses the Upper, Mid, Lower and Outer Cape regions and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Coming from the mainland, the Upper Cape extends east through Bourne, Sandwich, and Falmouth.

lighthouse in cape cod_history of cape cod_cape cod history_cape cod tourism

The Mid-Cape region covers Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Dennis, each with its own distinct villages. The seven villages of Barnstable include popular destinations like Hyannis, Cotuit, and Marstons Mills. The Lower Cape stretches to the eastern shore through Brewster and Chatham, then north to the Outer Cape communities of Provincetown, Wellfleet, and Orleans.

South of the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket feature island towns surrounded by lighthouses and coastal landscapes. Martha’s Vineyard’s rural villages of Aquinnah and West Tisbury sit on the “up-island” west side, while the port communities of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven are “down-island” to the east. Nantucket is the only town on Nantucket, and many small islands around the Cape are private. Each area has a distinct atmosphere and intriguing history. Remarkable landscapes are evidence of ancient glaciers and indigenous people have lived on Cape Cod for over 10,000 years.

aerial view of cape cod_cape cod history_history of cape cod_cape cod tourism

Mashpee is home to part of the Wampanoag Tribe; whose ancestors met the first European settlers at First Encounter Beach. Many historic colonial homes remain on the Cape, especially in Sandwich, Cape Cod’s oldest town. Art and architecture here reflect the area’s seafaring history, and many famous people have been inspired by the landscapes and communities of Cape Cod.

The entire Cape has an exciting arts and entertainment scene with the cuisine and nightlife to go with it. The Barnstable villages have especially vibrant arts communities, while galleries and museums all over the Cape showcase local and Cape Cod-influenced artists.  Cape Cod has also drawn many creative minds to join its innovative community of directors, playwrights, and performers. Here, you’ll find plays at historic theaters, concerts in intimate settings, and many varied cultural events.

whale fin in cape cod_history of cape cod_cape cod tourism

Pairing with the entertainment, Cape Cod is famous for fresh seafood and restaurants serving unforgettable cuisine in historic residences, old-town cafés, and harbor-front seafood shacks. The craft beer movement is also thriving here, and local breweries offer a tremendous variety of imaginative brews. And Cape Cod is bustling with activity after dark, especially in the summer. Nightlife hotspots like Provincetown are known for their music, DJs, and dancing. Others offer everything from karaoke to glow bowling and ballroom dancing. 

Beyond the culture and cuisine, Cape Cod is ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities. With over 700 miles of shoreline and abundant nature areas, it’s a paradise for boating enthusiasts, anglers, and nature lovers, there is something for everyone.

A Pilgrim Village in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Sankaty Head Lighthouse in Nantucket
A Simple Cape Cod Home with Red Barn Door
A statue of John F. Kennedy in Hyannis
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